A Three-Fold Response to God’s Word

Deuteronomy 5:1


And Moses summoned all Israel and said to them, “Hear, O Israel, the statutes and the rules that I speak in your hearing today; and you shall learn them and be careful to do them.

–Deuteronomy 5:1

Moses’ instructions to Israel are instructive for us today. As he prepares the people to hear the second rendering of the 10 Commandments and the law, he provides a three-fold response that God’s people are to have to the Word of the Lord.

1. Hear what the Lord says

Hearing is an important element of the Christian life. Paul stated, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ (Romans 10:17).” Even Moses in the very next chapter exhorted the people to hear regarding the basic theological truth, “Hear, O Israel; The LORD our God, the LORD is one (Deuteronomy 6:4).” Later in the New Testament, James picks up the theme when he writes that we are to “be quick to hear (James 1:19).”

This is why reading the Scriptures and listening to it being preached and taught are vital to our spiritual health. So the first aspect with regard to God’s word involves the ears – hear it.

2. Learn what the Lord says

The second aspect that Moses provided is that we are to learn the Word of God. This moves the focus from the ears to the mind and heart. This is to internalize the word. Let it seep deep within. Often the Psalmist wrote of meditating on God’s word. This is part of learning it.

The Lord also has provided us with teachers to help in this endeavor. This learning process is part of the very hallmark of our mission of making disciples. Jesus said that making disciples involves “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you (Matthew 28:20).”

We hear the word. And we learn the word.

3. Do what the Lord says

The third part of Moses’ teaching is that we are to do what we have heard and learned. It is interesting that this part of the process is accompanied with the idea to be careful to do it. Perhaps this added call to being careful is because we have a tendency to stop at the hearing or at the learning.

How often have you been guilty of hearing what God says and nothing follows? Or perhaps you study and gain increased knowledge, but life never reflects what has come from the mouth of God.

After James wrote what I quoted in the first step of the process to hear the word, he quickly adds a cautionary note. “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only (James 1:22).” We really only believe what we do. Even Paul’s teaching in Romans 10 indicates that hearing leads to faith.

The word enters externally through our ears. We hear it. It seeps into our minds and hearts. We learn it. Finally it moves outward through our hands, feet and mouth. We do it.

Make sure that you do not thwart the full process. Take time and pay attention to each of the three aspects of receiving the word of our God.